Brentford 0-0 Birmingham: Hope for automatic promotion to the Hosts’ Championship suffers another setback after fourth consecutive draw, while Blues secures a precious point in an attempt to beat the drop
- Brentford saw their automatic promotion hopes hit another dent
- They were detained by relegation-threatened Birmingham City on Tuesday night
- The bees are nine points behind second place Watford with a match in hand
- Lee Bowyer’s Birmingham is seven points above the drop zone after a stalemate
Brentford doesn’t seem hungry anymore when the marathon that is the championship race enters the house.
This was the fourth consecutive draw for Thomas Frank’s side as their ambitions to overhaul Watford and claim the second fast-track ticket to the Premier League are rapidly fading.
The Bees are now nine points behind in-form Watford and it will now take a monumental transformation into fortunes to avoid the playoffs and do things the straightforward way.
Brentford’s hopes of claiming a second fast-track ticket to the Premier League are quickly fading
Brentford (4-3-3): Raya; Roerslev, Jansson (c), Pinnock, Sorensen; Jensen (Marcondes 71), Norgaard, Janelt (Ghoddos 71); Mbeumo (Fosu 78), Toney, Canos (Forss 86)
Replacements not used: Daniels (GK); Goode, Reid, Stevens, Bidstrup
Manager: Thomas Frank
Birmingham City (4-1-2-1-2): Etheridge; Colin, Roberts, Dean (c), Pedersen; Sunjic; Gardner, Halilovic (Toral 60 (Harper 72)); McGree; Hogan (Leko 59), Jutkiewicz (Cosgrove 89)
Replacements not used: Prieto (GK); Friend, Bela, San Jose, Seddon
Manager: Lee Bowyer
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)
The point was much more useful to Birmingham, who matched the promotion fighters for long periods and is now seven points away from Rotherham just above the drop zone, although he has played four more games.
At least that end of the table offers some intrigue to the season finale. Norwich and Watford have turned an automatic promotion that promised drama to the last, into little more than a procession.
As you might expect, Brentford created the better odds, but in limited numbers and Birmingham was disciplined enough to fend off the late attack.
It was an equal opening half in spite of the respective positions of the two teams at the table. Both would have felt a little irritated if they weren’t up front at half time whistle.
An early threat to Brentford came from the catapult long throws from Marc Roberts who appears to be able to throw the ball 40 or 50 yards into a chaotic and overcrowded penalty kick with the languid ease of a 90mph Jofra Archer throw.
There were two or three of these early pitches, but Brentford took them well enough and created the opening chance of the game when Ethan Pinnock got two bites on a header from a corner kick, knocking Mathias Jensen off to waste his shot.
But Birmingham should have led after 14 minutes. The move resulted from Brentford’s right-back Mads Roerslev, who lost the injured Henrik Dalsgaard in an aerial challenge and suddenly turned Scott Hogan halfway and stormed forward.
Thomas Frank’s team signed on Tuesday-evening for the fourth time in a row
The Irishman reached the Brentford box, slashed on his left hand and fired a shot that ended as a low cross to the back post. Whatever the intention, it picked Gary Gardner perfectly, but with goalkeeper David Raya his shot scrambled against the base of the post.
That miss turned out to be almost costly when Brentford himself had a golden opportunity. Vitaly Janelt excelled in the Brentford midfield, combining the industry with a great vision to play the kind of pass that Sergi Canos spent cleanly.
Kristian Pedersen and Ivan Sunjic were engaged in a fruitless chase from the Spaniard, but as he approached Etheridge he seemed to slow down a fatal split second and his final shot rolled off the post.
Lee Bowyer’s team is seven points higher than Rotherham, but has played four more games
Birmingham more than held its own and a crocheted cross from Maxime Colin found that Lukas Jutkiewicz broke in front of his opponent and headed high and wide.
The championship’s lead sniper, Ivan Toney, had been well under control, but he had enough room to shoot in 35 minutes, forcing Etheridge to make a complete stop diving to the left.
And Etheridge made an almost identical save to turn down Toney again early in the second half after Canos played a nice ball in his path around the corner.
Brentford unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty when Canos went down in the area under the slightest contact from Harlee Dean.
The hosts kept moving forward and substitute Emiliano Marcondes hit a ball into Mbeumo, whose header forced a fresh reaction from Etheridge.
Frank played all of his offensive aces while half drifted on, throwing to Marcondes, Saman Ghoddos, Tariqe Fosu and Marcus Forss, but they again had to settle for just one point.
But no sooner than a moment of late tension. Gardner shot forward and led Jonathan Leko to the right, his shot forced Pontus Jansson into a vital block.